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October 6, 2015

Two Ways 'Mike & Molly' Has Improved ... And One Way It Hasn't

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 14th 2011 4:30PM
'Mike & Molly'Even though the Chuck Lorre comedy factory has seemingly cranked out yet another hit in 'Mike & Molly,' the freshman CBS sitcom had a bit of a rough go of it out of the gate, at least with critics and others in the media.

First there were the scathing reviews of the pilot -- mine included -- that criticized how it leaned too much on jokes about the weight of leads Melissa McCarthy and Billy Gardell. Then a writer for Marie Claire posted a breezy blog entry about how she couldn't stand the sight of the two heavy actors making out, leading one of those typical Internet poopstorms that leaves the writer begging to be let into the Witness Protection Program.

While all of this was going on, though, the show had developed a solid core that would allow it to find its comedic legs more quickly than other rookie sitcoms have. Its fellow freshman classmate, '$#*! My Dad Says,' has struggled even to get to mediocre, for example. 'Mike & Molly' has been able to get to the point where, while not the funniest or edgiest comedy out there, it's been entertaining enough to keep me tuning in every week. Why?

They've Concentrated on Mike and Molly's Relationship and Laid Off the Fat Jokes
In recent episodes, we've seen the battle that ensued between Molly and Mike's mother when Mike got sick, and what happens when Mike tells Molly that he wants to be buried next to her. This week, we get to see what happens when a previous relationship that Molly has never mentioned rears its ugly head.

These are issues that happen in every budding relationship, and the comedy from them comes out of how each character reacts to them. As we've gone on, we've seen that Mike is protective of his battle axe of a mother even though she drives him nuts. Molly is loving and warm, but is still trying to tread the waters of this new relationship carefully -- her reaction to Mike's premature burial request sent him into a tailspin.

'Mike & Molly' - 'Molly Makes Soup'Sure, you still hear the occasional fat joke, mostly from Mike's partner Carl (Reno Wilson). But that's to be expected, mainly because that's what happens when guys get together: they bust chops. But, as I mentioned in October, these jokes do what they're designed to do, which is be secondary places to get laughs rather than what the writers lean on.

The Families Are Better-Defined
Rondi Reed has played crusty broads forever, but she's been a welcome addition to the cast as Mike's mother. For some reason, her brand of complaining, martyrdom, overprotectiveness, and overall weirdness (she treats her dog Jim like he's a tiny human) seem to make her a much more realistic character than Molly's wine-swilling floozy of a mother, played by Swoozie Kurtz.

But even there, things have improved, as Joyce has found a partner in debauchery. Vince (played by Louis Mustillo) may be every stereotype of a Chicago middle-aged yahoo, but for some reason, pairing his character up with Kurtz's seems to work.

Even Carl has gotten some rounding, as we see his grandmother (Cleo King) put him in his place on a weekly basis. Sure, the dialogue between them sometimes sounds like it comes from an episode of a '70s sitcom like 'That's My Mama.' But at least we see why a little of why he is the way he is.

The topic of the characters' families, though, brings me to the one aspect of the show that still isn't working and either needs to be fixed or eliminated:

Molly's Sister Is Still a Cartoon Character
Doesn't it feel like Katy Mixon, who plays Molly's constantly-stoned sister Victoria, is on a different sitcom than the rest of the cast? Even though the character is from Chicago, Mixon still voices her in a vaguely Southern accent. All her character does is talk about being stoned, and Mixon delivers her lines slowly while mugging for the camera.

Maybe she's there as the "person who will say anything" character all sitcoms lately seem to have. Lorre seems to like that type of character: Larry on 'Dharma & Greg' begat Jake on 'Two and a Half Men', who begat Wolowitz on 'The Big Bang Theory,' so Victoria is the latest in a long line of outrageous Lorre characters. But she just seems like a distraction to what's being built among all the rest of the characters on the show. She either needs to develop a personality or move away and never be heard from again, Chuck Cunningham–style.

Tell us: Do you think 'Mike & Molly' has gotten better?

'Mike & Molly' airs Mondays at 9:30PM on CBS.

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Barbara Holland

It's a TV show...who cares if they don't sound like they are from Chicago..who cares if victoria sounds like she's from the south...Molly's mother really loves her girls...jamaican in Chicago, why not...It's a funny show & I like all the actors...Hope they keep it on the air for a long time...

June 15 2015 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Zyche

Mike and molly is a show that is not "re -up for next season tv show as far as I'm concerned. Being a citizen of chicago....This looks like california types, that watched "DA BEARS" skits on SNL. And said..this is how chicago is...
To me, depicting Chgo cops like this, is like making a cops comedy about L.A. cops that aired a year after the rodney king beating. And how is molly's mother a red head, and not by hair coloring, Mike's mother's hair is not his color at all, Molly's sister, LOOKS like and SOUNDS like she is from tennessee, and the 2 blacks, a jamaican, which is rare to find in Chicago, and a black cop that is that Puny, and sounds like that? this is the worst cast on tv. Mike sounds like an imitation of The dad from Family Guy, and his mother is an imitation of Lorraine on Mad Tv from the 90s.The black mom is indeed a regular rework of Fat black sassy woman, which simply WILL NOT DIE. Even Tyler perry does it. this tv show is stereotype after stereotype. did ANY of these people have friends from Chicago before they did this?

June 02 2015 at 7:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite character is Molly's sister. She added depth and compassion to this comedy during the episode where she helps Mike's mom agree to attend his wedding. I will never forget how heartwarming it was to see her casually putting make up on a "client" at the funeral home. She was funny and respectful at the same time. Pure talent!

October 21 2014 at 8:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gale Cannon

Waited all week to watch Mike & Molly at 9:30, and they werent on. I see on the comp. you listed the new show at 10:30, on the 26th of Sept. which is correct?

September 20 2011 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The entire cast is excellent. I could not disagree with you more, Mr. Keller. The sister's character is a scream, and I feel strongly that she could spin off into her own show. If she "went away" as you suggest, I would no longer find the show to be nearly as funny. My least favorite character on the show is Mike's mother. She is caustic and bitter and unpleasant to watch

September 19 2011 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mike & Molly ARE great, cant wait till to seem them , are they going to be on the same time Monday at 9;30 I notice there not on the 19th , please bring them back

September 18 2011 at 8:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

dont miss one show!! very happy that mike and molly will be back for season 2!! if not home to watch it , i dvr it!!

July 04 2011 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hi michelene

I watched it first run and now even watch the reruns of M and M . I so enjoy this show. I am tired of seeing reality shows ever other hour, on the net work schedule. I watch one and that is Amazing Race, for you learn of other countries. So lets all keep watching a real good sitcom.

July 01 2011 at 4:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


June 06 2011 at 10:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Terry Birnbaum

On Mike and Molly, the episode on April 11, did Billy Gardell play the other fat guy that was at the baseball game?

April 11 2011 at 10:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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